William Nicholson tells the story of two loves: one past, one present, both intimately entwined with Emily Dickinson's life . . .
August 1881: An attractive young married woman, Mabel Todd, arrives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her husband David, recently appointed assistant professor at Amherst College. The treasurer of the college is Austin Dickinson, the most respected citizen of the town, a married man with three children. Austin's sister Emily lives as a recluse in the Homestead, the house next-door to Austin's family. Over the months that follow the Todds' arrival, Austin falls passionately in love with Mabel, and she with him.
October 2013: Alice Dickinson, 24 years old, is struggling with her failure to find a boyfriend. At the same time she wants to escape her copy-writing job and make a living as a screenwriter. She takes time off work to research a screenplay on a story that has fascinated her since college days, where a love of Emily Dickinson's poems was triggered by the coincidence of her own surname.The story is the illicit love affair between Austin Dickinson and Mabel Todd.
The novel interweaves the stories of these two love affairs: the unfolding one between Alice and Nick, an older man she meets in Amherst, and the original love affair between Austin and Mabel, observed by Emily.
Nicholson creates a strong historical base from which he imaginatively recreates the time period and the personalities involved - Independent on Sunday
Enjoyable...the history is fascinating and the poems are sublime - The Sunday Times
A beguiling meditation on poetry and love - The Times
In this ambitious and brilliantly executed instalment a true historical love story intertwines with an imaginary contemporary one - Big Issue in the North
William Nicholson's masterly novel, zig-zagging between two contrasting eras, weaves love, sex and poetry together so seamlessly that you can hardly see the joins. - Mail on Sunday
A compelling reflection on sex and marriage in the 19th Century...an enjoyable concoction of first-hand accounts and modern imagination. - The Financial Times
The novel has quite a sensual side that strays from what you might be expecting - We Love This Book
William Nicholson grew up in Sussex and was educated at Downside School and Christ's College, Cambridge. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story, both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award of their year. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for stage, was Evening Standard's Best Play of 1990. He was co-writer on the film Gladiator, and his film writing credits include Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Les Miserables and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. He is married with three children and lives in Sussex. Visit his website at www.williamnicholson.co.uk